NBC pioneer Julian Goodman places papers at Vanderbilt

The papers of Julian Goodman, an NBC broadcast pioneer who helped bring to life the network news programs that we watch today, have been placed at Vanderbilt University Libraries’ Special Collections

Goodman began at NBC as a correspondent in 1945 during the formative years of television news. His experiences provided a solid understanding of the business as he worked his way up to president, chief executive officer and chairman until his retirement in 1979.

Goodman oversaw the rise of one of America’s best known anchor teams, David Brinkley and Chet Huntley. Other highlights of Goodman’s career include producing the second of the televised”Great Debates” between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon and overseeing NBC News’ coverage of several presidential conventions.

“Julian Goodman’s papers tell a remarkable story about the early days of television news,”
Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos
said.”We are pleased that scholars will access these archives at Vanderbilt as they research the fascinating history and business of American broadcasting.”

Goodman pioneered the television newsmagazine format with David Brinkley’s Journal during the early ’60s. At age 44 he became the youngest president in NBC’s history.

“The Goodman papers are one of the anchors of our growing holdings of news leaders and political figures who shaped the news and lived at the center of so many important events of our time,”
Connie Vinita Dowell
, dean of libraries, said.”Goodman’s archives are especially significant for us because their papers relate to and support the content of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive. All together, these print and media collections are a mark of distinction for Vanderbilt University.”

Vanderbilt Television News Archive
is the world’s most extensive and complete archive of television news. The archive has been recording, preserving and providing access to television news broadcasts of the national networks since Aug.5, 1968.

John Seigenthaler
, founder of the First Amendment Center, called the Goodman papers an archival treasure.”For more than three decades, Julian Goodman’s work and leadership at NBC were a vital force in shaping, enlivening and enhancing the culture of our nation’s communications media,” Seigenthaler said.”The documents will enrich the work of researchers seeking to understand the unique impact television had on our society, our government and our politics in the second half of the 20th century.”

As CEO and chairman, Goodman spoke out numerous times before Congress about the importance of preventing government control of broadcasting. For example, during a 1970 congressional hearing on presidential versus congressional access to the airways, Goodman defended freedom of the press.”The news media must have flexibility and independent news judgment to deal with political events as they occur,” he said.

“Constitutional scholars will find Julian’s courageous stand for rights of free expression of particular interest,” Seigenthaler said.”The papers provide yet another dimension to the magnetic appeal of the TV News Archive created by Vanderbilt more than 40 years ago.”

While Goodman’s archives include pictures snapped of him with many prominent journalists and political leaders, there are also photographs of numerous entertainers and athletes – demonstrating the growing importance of entertainment and sports in the television business while Goodman was in charge.

Goodman has received numerous awards and honors through the years, including a
George Foster Peabody Award
in 1974 for his”outstanding work in the area of First Amendment rights and privileges for broadcasting.” The International Radio and Television Society awarded Goodman the Gold Medal, its highest honor, for his achievements in and contributions to broadcasting. He also received the prestigious National Association of Broadcaster’s Distinguished Service Award. In addition, Goodman was the second recipient, following President Lyndon Johnson, of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Distinguished Alumni Award.

During an April 1989 NBC Nightly News story on the 50th anniversary of television, Goodman said,”We were inventing the rules as we played the game.” Now in April 2010, the media world is much different than the one he helped mold in his years at NBC. But Goodman, 88, is philosophical about the technological revolution of better communication, faster reporting and fierce competition.”There are more opportunities to be inaccurate now,” he said.”But there are plenty of people to correct you. Your competition will correct you.”

Brinkley spoke about his close friend and boss when Goodman retired in 1979.”Julian Goodman came to work at NBC in 1945 as a news writer, back in the days of ‘steam radio,’ when the news was read by announcers,” Brinkley said.”Well, from there he rose to president and board chairman of NBC and to becoming one of the most admired and respected people in broadcasting. Along the way, he, as much as anyone, helped to make NBC News and all television news a useful and reliable service to the public.”

For more information about Special Collections, please call 615-322-2807.

Media Contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, (615) 322-NEWS


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